Report: U.S. Surgeon General Calls Addiction Brain Disease & Not Character Flaw

By K. Aviles - 20 Nov '16 01:01AM

In the latest findings about addiction, Dr. Vivek Murthy labeled substance abuse as a "brains' disease," calling for an action geared towards a change in attitude in dealing with people who have addiction. Murthy, in issuing an unprecedented report of a Surgeon General, said the government should "invest in treatment" to avoid paying for more later.

In effectively implementing a treatment to combat drug addiction, Murthy explained that addiction is not "a character flaw." According to him, both drug and alcohol addictions are crisis involving public health and both are undertreated and under-appreciated.

The Surgeon General's Report aims to "galvanize work on the issue the way a similar report 50 years ago sparked decades of effort to combat," CBC reported. It encourages lawmakers, scientists, regulators as well as schools, families and localities to utilize "holistic approach" in winning in the fight against addiction. Murthy recommended an increase in access to subsisting treatment programs, expand more effective programs. According to Murthy, the current treatment programs have shown a decrease in relapse risks.

Cases of drug addiction increase over the past years. U.S. President Barack Obama, to fight the issue, requested for an additional fund amounting to US$1.1 billion. Among the substances abused often are Opiods, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphineand oxycodone, which are sold using brands like Percocet, OxyContin, Actiq and Vicodin.

In 2014 alone, deaths in the United States resulting from drug overdose increase by 6.5 per cent or numbering to 47,055 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those deaths are caused by heroine abuse and painkillers with prescription. Last year, the number of people using prohibited drugs or misusing some prescription drugs was 27 million.

Murthy intends to follow the Surgeon General's Report in 1964, which sought to curb the number of people addicted to smoking. It has been effective, cutting the number of smokers to less than 17 per cent, according to Murthy as reported. Earlier this year, The Food and Drug Administration reformed its procedure in approving opiods by adding more "warnings to short-acting opiods." In a separate report, addiction is said to be "a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.


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